Flying Freehold Explained: A Comprehensive Guide for UK Property Owners

Flying Freehold Explained: A Comprehensive Guide for UK Property Owners

1. Introduction

Flying freehold – a term that might sound like it belongs in a fantasy novel, but it’s a very real and important concept in UK property law. At its core, a flying freehold occurs when a part of a freehold property overhangs or underlies another freehold property. This can include elements like rooms, balconies, or even cellars that extend over or under an adjoining property.

In the UK, flying freeholds are not uncommon, especially in older, densely-packed urban areas where historic buildings have been subdivided over time. Understanding the nuances of flying freehold is crucial for anyone involved in property ownership, whether you’re buying, selling, or simply maintaining your property.

Let’s delve into the world of flying freeholds, unraveling their complexities and providing clarity for those who find themselves navigating this unique aspect of property law.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Features
  3. Legal Implications
  4. Buying and Selling Flying Freehold Properties
  5. Flying Freehold Insurance
  6. Resolving Disputes in Flying Freehold
  7. Additional Resources
  8. Conclusion

2. Key Features

When we talk about flying freeholds, we’re referring to a unique property arrangement that often arises in complex building structures. Here are some key characteristics that define a flying freehold:

  • Overlapping Ownership: The most distinctive feature is that part of the property (e.g., a room or balcony) extends over a space that is part of another freehold property. This overlapping creates a situation where one property owner has a section of their home “flying” over or under another’s property.
  • Contrast with Standard Freehold: Unlike standard freeholds where a property owner has complete control over their land and building, flying freeholds involve a shared interest with neighboring properties.
  • Examples: Common examples include rows of terraced houses with extended balconies, parts of a room extending over a neighbor’s property, or shared structural elements like beams and walls.

Table: Comparison of Flying Freehold and Standard Freehold Properties

Feature Flying Freehold Standard Freehold
Ownership Part of the property extends over or under another freehold property. Complete control over the land and building without overlapping with other properties.
Maintenance & Repairs Shared responsibilities, often leading to complex arrangements and potential disputes. Sole responsibility for maintenance and repairs of the property.
Legal Complexity Higher due to overlapping ownership and shared parts. Requires clear legal agreements. Less complex, as ownership and responsibilities are clearly defined.
Insurance May require specialised policies to cover unique aspects of flying freeholds. Standard home insurance policies are typically sufficient.
Mortgage Eligibility Can be challenging to secure a mortgage due to perceived risks by lenders. Generally easier to secure a mortgage.
Property Value Can be affected by the complexities and potential disputes related to overlapping areas. More straightforward valuation without the complexities of overlapping ownership.
Dispute Resolution Requires clear agreements and potentially legal intervention in case of disputes. Disputes are usually limited to within the property’s boundaries, easier to manage.

Understanding these key features is essential for any potential buyer or existing owner of a property with a flying freehold. It’s important to recognise the implications of such ownership, especially in terms of maintenance, insurance, and legal rights.

flying freehold


3. Legal Implications

The legal landscape  in the UK can be complex and often requires careful navigation. Here are some critical legal aspects associated with flying freeholds:

  • Ownership Rights and Responsibilities: Owners of flying freehold properties have certain rights over the ‘flying’ part of the property, but these might be limited compared to standard freehold ownership. Responsibilities for repairs and maintenance are often a grey area and can lead to disputes.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: One of the biggest challenges is the maintenance of the parts that overlap. There’s often a lack of clarity on who is responsible for repairs, especially if they affect both properties.
  • Boundary Issues: Disputes over boundaries are common in flying freeholds. Clear agreements and understanding between the owners can prevent such conflicts.

Case Study: A notable case involving a flying freehold dispute was resolved in court where the judge had to determine the responsibility for maintenance of a shared wall. The decision emphasized the importance of clear legal agreements between owners of adjoining properties.

flying freehold

4. Buying and Selling Flying Freehold Properties

Navigating the purchase or sale of a property with a flying freehold involves several considerations unique to this type of ownership:

  • Challenges in Purchasing: Buying a flying freehold property can be more complex than standard transactions. Prospective buyers should be aware of potential issues such as securing a mortgage, understanding shared responsibilities, and ensuring proper legal documentation.
  • Tips for Sellers: If you’re selling a property with a flying freehold, transparency is key. Disclosing all relevant information and having detailed records of any agreements or disputes can make the process smoother.
  • Conveyancing Solicitors’ Role: The involvement of a knowledgeable conveyancing solicitor is crucial. They can help navigate the legal complexities, ensure all necessary checks are carried out, and assist in drafting agreements that clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved.

flying freehold

5. Flying Freehold Insurance

Insurance for flying freehold properties requires special attention due to the unique nature of these properties:

  • Insurance Challenges: Standard home insurance policies may not adequately cover the complexities of a fly-freehold, particularly when it comes to shared parts of the property.
  • Finding the Right Coverage: It’s advisable to seek insurers who specialise in or are familiar with those properties. They can provide policies that specifically address the unique risks involved.

6. Resolving Disputes in Flying Freehold

Disputes in flying freehold scenarios can be particularly challenging due to the shared nature of the property. Here are ways to manage and resolve these disputes effectively:

  • Methods for Resolution: The first step is often to engage in a direct dialogue with the other property owner. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, mediation or arbitration can be sought. In extreme cases, legal action may be necessary.
  • Legal Precedents and Case Studies: There have been instances where the courts had to intervene in disputes. These cases often highlight the need for clear communication and legal agreements between the owners.

Tips for Avoiding Disputes:

  1. Establish clear agreements on maintenance and repair responsibilities from the outset.
  2. Regularly communicate with the neighboring property owner.
  3. Seek legal advice when drafting or altering any agreements.
“Thank you to Eve and the team for being so brilliant at communication and helping us along the road with buying our first property. Any questions have been answered promptly with no difficulty and they are easily contactable. This is our second time trusting in conveyancers and a far easier and smoother process than previously. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work!” – Ellie, a satisfied AVRillo client.

7. Additional Resources

For those seeking more information or assistance regarding flying freeholds, the following resources can be invaluable:

  • Legal Advice: Consulting with a conveyancing solicitor who specialises in fly-freeholds is always recommended.
  • Online Forums and Communities: Platforms where property owners discuss their experiences and challenges can offer practical insights.
  • Government and Legal Websites: Official websites often provide guidelines and updates on property law, including aspects.

Useful Websites and Contacts:

  1. The Law Society: For finding accredited legal professionals.
  2. UK Government Property Ownership Advice: Official resource for property ownership queries.
  3. Property Law Discussion Forums: Community-driven platforms for sharing experiences.

8. Conclusion

Understanding flying freeholds is crucial for anyone involved in the UK property market. From the legal complexities to the challenges in buying, selling, and insuring these properties, there is much to consider. It’s essential to approach these situations with clarity and knowledge.

AVRillo’s Role in Flying Freeholds:

  1. As conveyancing specialists, AVRillo can play a pivotal role in navigating the intricacies of fly-freehold transactions.
  2. They offer a transparent and efficient process, ensuring clients are well-informed and supported throughout their property journey.
  3. Their ethos of ‘People Over Profit’ aligns with the need for clear communication and cooperation in flying-freehold scenarios.

In conclusion, while fly-freeholds present unique challenges, with the right guidance and understanding, these can be navigated successfully. For those requiring expert assistance, AVRillo’s conveyancing services offer the expertise and support needed to ensure a smooth and informed property transaction.

Also See: 

  1. What is conveyancing? 
  2. What is staircasing in conveyancing? 
  3. What is residential conveyancing? 
  4. What is a licensed conveyancer? 
  5. What searches do conveyancers do? 
  6. What is an environmental search in conveyancing? 
  7. What is a local search in conveyancing? 

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